Thursday, February 24, 2011

ERNAKULAM DISTRICT

Shankaracharya
 Ernakulam is known as the Commercial capital of Kerala.Ernakulam  district is the most well developed and
advanced district in Kerala.Thiruvananthapuram,Kochi and Kozhikkod  were the capital of Princely states
Travancore,Cochin and Malabar and these places were famous from very ancient times.These thickly populated places after the Indian Independence and Kerala State formation developed further as modern cities but still
preserves the old natural beauty.Palaces and other monuments which reveals the architectural talent of our ancestors are still intact and well maintained.Ernakulam district is commercially very important and earns the highest revenue than all other districts in Kerala.The place Ernakulam and suburbs developed in to an Industrial area and trading center because of Kochi Sea Port.Kochi is well known as a sea port from very ancient times.
Kochi is famous  as the 'Queen of Arabian Sea'.It is a natural port formed by opening of the estuaries by a great flood in 1341A.D.There was port at Kodungalloor also and Kerala ports had trade relation with Arab countries,China etc.The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi denotes the trade relation between Cochin and China.
                                      The name Ernakulam means 'Abode of Lord Siva'.There is a famous and old Siva temple at Ernakulam.Moreover the worship of Lord Siva  at Aluva is especially important for 'Sivarathri Festival'.Sivarathri is an important festival of Hindus celebrated all over India.Rather than a celebration the people will be engaged in Siva temple visits and spending the time in prayers..Hindus are not supposed to sleep on Sivarathri day but they should spend the night at temple or at home praying God.There will be huge gathering of thousands of people from all parts of Kerala at Aluva on that day.It is believed that the reverence done for the Deity at Aluva and the oblations done for our ancestors on Periyar river banks at Aluva removes our sins.This year's Sivarathri day is on  March 2 , 2011.
Ernakulam district comprises of Taluks Kochi,Aluva,Paravur,Kothamangalam,Kunnathunadu,Kanayannur,and Moovattupuzha.Kerala's  second largest river Periyar flows through all these Taluks except Moovattupuzha.Rivers moovattupuzha and Thodupuzhayar also flows through this district.
Kochi port was deepened by dredger in 1926 and  the 'Willington island' was formed by depositing the removed sand,soil and mud from there.At present Willington island is having Airport,Government Offices,Southern Naval Command Offices,Railway terminal,Star Hotels etc etc.Ernakulam district is having  the highest number of islands in Kerala.Willington,Vypin,Vallarpadam,Kumbalam,Ramanthuruthu,Chendamangalam etc are examples and these thickly populated places are all beautiful tourist spots also.The scenic beauty of sea,backwaters, lakes and  the hectic City makes Ernakulam a lovely place for all tourists.The view of the sailing ships and boats as well as the Harbour  from Marine Drive is a splendid sight.
The ship building yard at Kochi is an important ship building yard in India.The Vallarpadam container terminal will further boost the development of this area and also the upcoming 'Smart City I.T. Project'.
At Udyogamandal, a place in  Paravur Taluk, there  are industries like  Indian rare earths,.F.A.C.T.,Travancore Kochi Chemicals etc and at Kalamassery there  are  factories like Appollo tyres,Premier tyres, H.M.T, etc.
Vypin island  is very beautiful and  visited by tourists and there is a light house also..
Jewish Synagogue built in 1568  and St.Francis Church the first church built by Europeans in India where Vascodagama was buried  are tourist attractions.Pareekshit Tampuran Museum which is situated on Durbar hall road where  historical important items are displayed is worth to visit.The palace of Cochin rulers at Thrippunithura  still exists.There is a Museum at Thrippunithura known as 'Hill Palace Museum'.
Veegaland, which is a water theme park in the private sector where there are so many water rides available is loved by young and old. .In the Roman Catholic Church 'Santa Cruz Basillica' built in 1503 there are ancient mural paintings.
The Poornathrayeesa temple at Thripponithura is an ancient temple of Lord Maha Vishnu.
The palace of 'Paliath Achan' the famous Diwan of Kochi is at Chendamangalam and this beautiful monument have a collection of historic items.Bolgatty palace is also visited by tourists.This palace was made by the Dutch in 1749 A.D.There is a golf course near to it.Mattancheri palace is where art gallery is functioning.This historical monument was made by the Portuguese but later the Dutch captured it and made additions to it.
Malayattoor Church which is 47 kms from Kochi  is sacred because of St.Thomas.The trekking of the hill there is performed  by devotees every year as a sacred event.At Edappally there is Kerala Historical Museum.All the historical events of Kerala can be understood by a visit here.
For Onam festival, ten days prior to to the main festival day 'Thiruvonam' a  splendid procession is held at Trippunithura and people from other parts of Kerala go there to witness it.This is known as 'Athachamayam'.
Mangala Bird sanctuary  is situated near Ernakulam town at a place known as' Mangala Vanam' which is an island where many species of birds can be seen.Thattekkad is another bird sanctuary which is the first bird sanctuary in Kerala and this beautiful place is worth to visit.
At Kalady near Malayattur there is a monument in memory of 'Jagad Guru Adi Sankaracharya'.There are two shrines there one for Dakshinamoorthy and other for  Goddess Sarada.
The famous Chottanikkara Temple is only 8kms from Ernakulam.
Kanjiramattom Mosque which is built on the mortal remains of a Saint Sheikh Parid is visited by devotees in large numbes..It is believed that  Baver  prayed here and attained salvation.
At Edappally there is an ancient Christian Church which has much importance.
At Kodanadu there existed Elephant capturing,taming  and training ..Elephants are not captured at present but the taming and  training center is still there which  will be interesting to all and worth visit.
Eminent Personalities of this district includes Saint Shankaracharya,
Njan Peedh Holder G.Shankara Kurup(Poet),Poet Changapuzha,
The very famous singer K.J.Jesudas,Film Actors-Jayaram,Dilip,Jayasoorya,Lalu Alex,Cochin Haneefa,Sankaradi,and
actress Asin.
Cricketer Sreesanth is also from this district.

Monday, February 14, 2011

KOTTAYAM DISTRICT-PART2

There are several famous Churches in Kottayam District.St.Mary's Church, Manarcad is just 9kms from Kottayam town.The practice of 8 days fast and the feast of Virgin Mary's Birth are celebrated between 1st September and 8th September every year.The Virgin Mary's unseen presence and blessings are felt by the devotees who arrives in this Church.Several thousands of people from every part of the world used to visit this Holy Shrine every year.
Ancient Malankara Orthodox Church with wall mural Paintings are visited by devotees and tourists.Church and seminary for Syrian Christians at 'Chungam' is also very famous.
Ramapuram 15 kms from 'Pala' Municipality, is famous for a Church and tomb of Bl.Kunjachan,which devotees are visiting in plenty.He was a Priest who was declared Blessed in 2006.Many people obtained favours through his intercession.
Puthuppally is a place 8kms from Kottayam town in which the famous St.George Church exists.It is the refuge of thousands of people all around the world who seek the intercession of St.George.It is believed that this Church was consecrated by St.Thomas.
The Thazhathangadi  Mosque which is at kummanam just 3kms from kottayam is a Pilgrimage Centre for the Muslims.The Mosque at Changanasseri is also very famous.The 'Chandanakkudam' festival at Changanasseri Mosque attracts devotees in large numbers.
Changanasseri is raised to ths status of an Archdiocese by Pope Pius XII constituting the second province in the Syro-Malabar Church.
The ancient Palace at 'Poonjar' is a monument which is attracted by the tourists.
"Wagamon' is an excellent and beautiful tourist spot 18kms from 'Pala' town.'Kurisumala' 'Murugan Mala'
'Kolahalamedu' etc are places to visit here.This highland hilly areas have cool and pleasant climate and eccentric beauty.
The Mahadeva temple at "Vaikom' which is 50kms from Kottayam town is a  very sacred temple of the Hindus.
The 12 day festival 'Vaikathashtami' is celebrated in a grand manner here and a large number of devotees gather here on the Ashtami day.There is a famous Subramanya temple at 'Udayanapuram' only 2km from Vaikom and the temple deity is brought in a procession on the auspicious day of Astami on Elephant..Subramanya is Lord Siva's son and other 8 more deities of near by temples also adjoins at Vaikom temple on that day on Elephants.The procession of Subramanya is greeted by placing brass oil lamps in three rows on the way for more than one km distance from Vaikom temple with full pageantry.There is free meals given in the Vaikom temple every day up to noon time for all devotees which is known as 'Vaikathu Prathal'.There is a story regarding this tasty feast  which is continuing for centuries.One of the Kings of Travancore who had the feast from the temple was highly impressed by the  traditional vegetarian dishes.
.The King wanted the recipe of the dishes and the Chief  Cook answered politely that it was prepared as   elsewhere but the King was not satisfied with that answer.He insisted for the recipe again and so the Cook wrote  the detailed recipe and the last item required was 'Sacred Kitchen of Vaikom temple'. Then only the king understood the secret behind the super taste of the dishes.He praised Lord Mahadeva and went back.
The place Vaikom got fame in history since it was the venue of 'Vaikom Sathyagraha'  in which several eminent leaders of Kerala participated against the practice of untouchability, by which the sector of Hindus who were Scheudeled Castes and Scheduled Tribes could not enter the temples and they were not enjoying equal rights.The Maharaja of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal by Temple Entry Proclamation abolished that practice and allowed  all Hindus to enter all temples in Kerala.During that protest Mahatma Gandhi also visited Vaikom to take part  in the Sathyagraha.
Ettumanoor  is a place which got fame since there is another well known Lord Siva temple there which is visited by large number of devotees.It is believed that certain diseases are being cured by praying the deity there.A Travancore Maharaja presented  big size 7 golden elephant models and a small size golden elephant which is known  as 'Ezhara ponnana' (Seven and a half golden elephants) which are carved in wood and covered with gold plates.The king presented this to the temple as a gratitude to the Deity for curing his chronic ailment.This golden elephants are displayed during festival time..Another king of Ambalapuzha Principality presented a brass Bull inside which contains paddy seeds.
This was presented to the temple for curing his stomach disease and it is believed that if one grain is taken out of that Brass Bull from a small hole at the side of it and eaten,  all kinds of stomach disorders will be cured.But the authorities will not allow to take out paddy seeds now.
Once a thief named Stephen, from Neyyattinkara which is a place near Trivandrum  managed to steal a
small idol from this temple at night but he was unable to take anything else since there were security people else where..
The idol was used for procession purposes and  the next day the Priest informed the Police that it was missing.At first instance no evidence was traced but an Officer saw a small curled piece of paper floating on the water in the temple well.They cautiously took it out and there was the name of a primary school student written on that notebook paper .The student's school name was also on the paper and police on further investigation understood that  old note books were sold at a village hard ware shop by the student to earn some cash..Stephen bought a small
iron piece of tool from that shop on the previous day and it was packed in that note paper sheet.For opening one door of the temple the thief used that tool and before using it  removed the covering  paper and threw it in  the well.The shop keeper was knowing that Stephen was indulged in small thefts and so revealed the fact to the police that Stephen had purchased an iron tool the previous day.The police could retrieve  the idol the next day itself.
Perunna Subramanya temple at Changanassery,Thrikkodithanam Maha Vishnu temple,Kumaranelloor Devi temple,Thiruvarpu Sree krishna temple,Vazhapally Mahadeva temple where Ganapathy deity is having equal importance and have separate flag staff,Kaipattur Mahadeva temple etc are all famous temples in kottayam district.
'Elavizhapunjira' is another elevated tourist spot where the climate is obviously cool and pleasant.We can observe the sun rise and sun set beautifully from here.
Changanasserry is an important place in this district where there is an ancient market  existing.This place is famous for religious harmony since Hindus,Christians and Muslims live here with brotherly hood loving and respecting each other.In December one day there is celebration of Hindu temple,Christian Church and Mosque which falls on the same day and the people celebrate it together in joy and harmoniously.
Shri.K.R.Narayanan, former President of India hailed from 'Uzhavoor' in this district.Shri.Ummen Chandi who is Ex-Chief Minister of Kerala and Congress leader is from Puthupally.Shri.K.M.Mani, Ex-Minister and leader of kerala Congress(M) is from "Pala"..
Kandathil Varghese Mappilai,Shri.K.M.Cheriyan,Shri.K.M.Mathew, Shri.D.C.Kizhakkemuri etc were
reputed publishers and Men of Letters.Shri.Vaikom Muhammed Basheer was novelist and writer who is loved and remembered by all.Shri.Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair was a reputed Kathakali Dancer.
In the film industry,Super star Shri.Mammootty,Director Shri.Jayaraj,Music Composer Shri. Jayan,Actor Shri.Manoj K. Jayan etc are from Kottayam District.
Nair Service Society

Changanasserry is the Head quarters of Nair Service society(N.S.S) which is a non political Organisation  formed by Shri.Mannathu Padmanabhan in 1914.Nairs are a major community of Hindu religion in Kerala and at the time of starting this society there was no unity of Nairs.For unity and welfare of the community it was formed and Mannathu Padmanabhan, an efficient organizer,philanthropist and who was capable of materializing his dreams in to reality was successful to start several Educational Institutions including schools, Arts and Science Colleges,Engineering and Medical Institutions etc.Now there are more than 5000 'Karayogams' which are branches of this society  functioning in all corners of Kerala State.Mannathu Padmanabhan was the first and an efficient President of 'Travancore Devaswom Board' also.He worked for the betterment of  lower caste people also and took part in 'Vaikom Sathayagraha'.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

KOTTAYAM DISTRICT (Part-1)

Travancore Devaswom Board President  disclosed this week that the sacred flame being witnessed at Ponnambalamedu in Sabaramala is not Celestial but man made.He added that most of the pilgrims are aware of this fact and Devaswom board do not want to do any propaganda in this manner.As he said most of the pilgrims knew very well that it is human creation.My personal opinion is that instead of the "Aarati" inside the temple which can not be seen because of the rush,  majority of the people are viewing it as a relief.This disclosure will not affect the pilgrimage to Sabarimala since this is not the prime factor which attracts devotees to that temple.The number of pilgrims to Sabarimala will increase every year in spite of any contradictory actions from any sources.People who gather at Erumeli to perform Pettah Thullal and take pains to trek through the traditional path of Karimala Hill also increase annually since devotees love Lord Ayyappa utmost.
Erumeli is in Kottayam District.During the two months of Sabarimala Pilgrimage large number of devotees come here and spectators also arrive to witness pettah thullal.There is the famous 'Vavar Mosque' and a famous Sastha temple in Erumeli.
Kottayam District has many peculiarities.Kottayam is the first place in India to achieve cent percent literacy.Rivers Meenachil,Manimala and Moovattupuzhayar flows through this district.Kottayam was the center of Christian Missionary activities in India.Kottayam  District produces the majority of rubber in India and  Kottayam is the head quarters of Rubber Board.It is the wholesale market of spices also.The first printing press of Kerala, CMS press was started in Kotayam..First news paper of Kerala was published from here.Kottayam is known as the place of letters.More than 70% of publications and Books are published from Kottayam.Earlier there was Nasrani Deepika,Desabandhu,Kerala Bhushanam like news papers published from here.Malayala Manorama the most circulated news paper has their Head Office at Kottayam.It was started more than 100 years ago by Sri.Kandathil Varghese Mappilai.Now that group has several publications and magazines like 'The Week'.Malayala Manorama Year Book is also best seller in India.
Mangala group of publication from Kottayam has also newas paper and several best selling magazines.Book publishers like D.C.Books, N.B.S, Sahithya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham etc have their Head Office at Kottayam.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is the most famous tourist spot here.It is only 12kms from Kottayam town.It is the place of migratory birds  and many other species of birds.Lake cruises on House Boats are possible at Kumarakom and it is  a major attraction here.Many types of luxury House boats are available for rent here.Hotels with good facilities are available at Kumarakom and kottayam town.Passenger boats are also available from Kumarakom to Alleppey and other destinations.
Bharananganam Church of Kottayam District attracts devotees from all parts of India and abroad.This Church is more than one Thousand Years old.It is there that the Tomb of "Saint Alphonsamma' exists.St.Alphonsamma Muttathupadathu or St.Alphonsamma of the Immaculate conception  is the first  person of the Indian Origin to be Canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church.In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI announced her Canonization at a Ceremony at Saint Peter's Square.
The only Sun Temple of Kerala is at Aadithyapuram in this District.Saraswathi temples are also very rare and Panachikkadu Temple  of Saraswathi Devi which is known as 'Dakshina Mookambika' is in Kottayam District.Every day small children are brought here to start their learning process which is known as 'Ezhuthiniruth' except for two days in a year on Durgashtami day and Mahanavami day.On all other days Ezhuthiniruthu is done here since Saraswathi Devi is the Goddess of Learning according to Hindu belief.Artists of all Categories also arrive here and perform their talents in front of the Goddess to get blessed for  getting more perfection.
Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple which is dedicated to Lord Siva is in Kottayam Town itself.It is one of the most famous Siva Temple of Kerala.
Hindusthan News Print Factory is situated at Velloor in Kottayam.The Centre of Mahatma Gandhi University is in Kottayam  at Athirampuzha Priyadarshini Hills.
Oldest Muslim Mosque in South Kerala is in kottayam.It is 'Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid' and attracts large number of devotees.
There is a water fall known as 'Maramala' water fall in this District near to 'Eerattupettah.'
Kottayam town is 152kms away from Trivandrum and 76kms away from Ernakulam.